Image: Intel

Intel has responded to an issue relating to its 12th Gen Core processors, whereby the elongated design of the CPUs, when coupled with the clamp-down pressure of the loading mechanism, could result in bending, warping, or bowing of the integrated heat spreader, reducing optimal surface contact with the bases of coolers and increasing temperatures by around 5°C.

Sounds like somewhat of a serious defect, right? Nope, says Intel, which has acknowledged the issue in a statement in which it explains that this sort of “deflection” is quite expected and something that isn’t serious enough to cause the processor to operate outside of its original, intended specifications. In fact, the company behind the Alder Lake-S chips has even warned enthusiasts who have tried to compensate for the bending by modifying the socket that doing so can void their warranties.

“We have not received reports of 12th Gen Intel Core processors running outside of specifications due to changes to the integrated heat spreader (IHS),” reads a statement from Intel. “Our internal data show that the IHS on 12th Gen desktop processors may have slight deflection after installation in the socket. Such minor deflection is expected and does not cause the processor to run outside of specifications. We strongly recommend against any modifications to the socket or independent loading mechanism. Such modifications would result in the processor being run outside of specifications and may void any product warranties.”

Bending of the IHS in 12th Gen Intel Core processors and the resulting gap between coolers is illustrated in the video below.

Intel Comments On Alder Lake’s Warping and Bending Issues, Mods Void Warranty (Tom’s Hardware)

The condition, referred to as ‘bending,’ ‘warping,’ or ‘bowing’ in PC enthusiast circles, is the result of the tremendous pressure placed on the middle of the chip that causes the IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader) to bend, and it often results in very creative workarounds to address the issue. This can range from users employing washers or custom-built devices to extreme overclockers like Splave hacksawing a socket out of a motherboard to regain the lost cooling ability.

Intel’s statement does acknowledge that the condition exists but says it doesn’t cause performance issues. However, it’s important to take these comments in context: First, deflection is an engineering term to describe “the degree to which a part of a structural element is displaced under a load (because it deforms),” so this is the technical term for what the enthusiast community refers to as ‘bending,’ ‘warping,’ or ‘bowing.’

Second, Intel’s statement that it hasn’t received reports of the chips running outside of specifications means that the deflection doesn’t cause the chip to run higher than the 100C maximum temperature and that any increased thermals don’t cause the chip to drop below its base frequency. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an impact on cooling — it just isn’t severe enough to cause the chip to run out of spec.

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11 comments

  1. Seems like it would be very dependent on the heatsink you have on top. A decent one with good coverage it seems would help keep the spreader in place by applying sufficient pressure evenly across the IHS -- you wouldn't necessarily see it warp until you pulled the HSF off.
  2. Seems like it would be very dependent on the heatsink you have on top. A decent one with good coverage it seems would help keep the spreader in place by applying sufficient pressure evenly across the IHS -- you wouldn't necessarily see it warp until you pulled the HSF off.
    The Noctua cooler I had originally was very good at coverage and when I took the cpu out I seen no warping. I guess time will tell if the Z73 I'm currently using does the same.
  3. If you're warping the heat spreader thats some serious heat you're pumping through a piece of metal. Like very serious heat. I love how the answer is. "Oh running out cpu is your box caused the metal heat spreader to warp.. oh thats totally expected. We made it that way on purpose.
  4. If you're warping the heat spreader thsts some serious heat you're pumping through a piece of metal. Like very serious heat. I love how tje answer is. "Ob running out cpu is your box caused the metal heat spreader to warp.. oh thsts totally expected. We made it that way on purpose.
    It ain't heat - the LGA1700 socket clamp itself is bending the IHS. CPUs are 'long', and the clamp is focused in the middle of the IHS on the long sides.

    If ever you thought closing an LGA socket took too much pressure, let me assure you, LGA1700 is on another level!
  5. It ain't heat - the LGA1700 socket clamp itself is bending the IHS. CPUs are 'long', and the clamp is focused in the middle of the IHS on the long sides.

    If ever you thought closing an LGA socket took too much pressure, let me assure you, LGA1700 is on another level!
    If the heat spreader is flexing like that... could you ever move that cpu to a different motherboard?
  6. If the heat spreader is flexing like that... could you ever move that cpu to a different motherboard?
    Having done it twice (three boards, same CPU)- yes. Plenty of folks have done it many more times.

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